“No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” — 1 Corinthians 10:13 (NIV84)
Temptation is being led to do something we ought not do. Satan led Eve to believe that it would be harmless, actually fulfilling, to eat the forbidden fruit. Jesus Himself was led by the same enemy to act contrary to God’s will. Adam and Eve fell for the temptation and lived contrary to God’s will, whereas Jesus resisted the temptation and remained sinless. Ever since the Fall, humanity has been affected with a sinful nature. King David says in Psalm 51:5, “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.” We have a sinful nature. We are inclined to live contrary to the will of God. Man is basically bad. To anyone who would like to argue that man is basically good, I ask one simple question: At what age do we teach our children to be bad? We don’t! They are basically bad, and we spend a lifetime teaching them how to be good.
The good news is that our sin was eliminated when Jesus was crucified and died for our sins. Jesus says that as believers, we have been spiritually born again. Paul says that a new creature has been created in us. Our new nature desires to live according to the will of God. As Christians, we now have two natures living with us that wage war with each other. Hence Paul says, “The good I want to do I do not do, and the evil I do not want to do, I keep on doing.” Even as believers we face temptation continuously. That temptation can start right inside of us as we listen to our sinful nature, or it can come from outside of us, as Satan lures us to listen to our sinful nature rather than to God’s will.
So, what do we do? First, understand that temptation is inevitable. Second, do everything you can to feed the new creature in you and continually put down your sinful nature. We do this by being firmly rooted in God’s Word and in a prayerful relationship with God. Third, know that when temptation comes, sin is not inevitable. Paul tells us that God provides the means to stand up under the temptation. We need to become more spiritually discerning so that we can see the way out that God has provided. Last, when you fail and fall into the temptation, run to the cross. Do not wallow in your sin. Take it to the cross of Jesus Christ and know that it has been forgiven and forgotten. Rise up and get back in the race.
May we be wise in our understanding and handling of temptation when it comes.